Okahandja Deputy Mayor and mayoral aspirant, Sophia Uupitha, has lashed out at fellow council members and the SWAPO Party Okahandja District Executive Committee for blocking her ascendency to the town’s highest political office.
An angry Uupitha told the Windhoek Observer on Wednesday that she will no longer keep quiet while her fellow councillors continue to bully her.
Okahandja has been on the edge for over two weeks now after SWAPO Party Secretary General, Sophia Shaningwa, gave a directive that Uupitha should be sworn in as mayor.
In the directive, Shaningwa demoted current Mayor, Johannes ‘Congo’ Hindjou, to the position of a councilor, a decision which did not sit well with other council members and the SWAPO Party Regional District Executive Committee.
The executive is alleging that Uupitha is not fit to be the town’s mayor as she does not attend meetings and because of her aggressive and abusive nature towards other councillors.
Uupitha is, however, arguing that she abides by the rules of the party which states that the council should only sit for ten meetings and four community meetings a year.
“When you are made councillor it is on a SWAPO ticket therefore we should respect the rules of the party. I have been quiet for too long. At the beginning of every year we are given a calendar with dates of when we should hold meetings and that is the calendar I live by.
“Hindjou wants us to have meetings every time even when it is just to gossip. He is at the municipality for 24 hours every day like a full-time employee of the municipality. He is interfering in the office of the municipality’s Chief Executive Officer.
“I am a professional woman who runs her own business therefore I will only follow the calendar,” Uupitha said.
She accused the SWAPO Party District Executive Coordinator, Martha Mwandiki, for interfering in council business when she is supposed to be the overall head of the SWAPO Party in the region.
“She concerns herself with council matters while neglecting her own duties. They are supposed to be organizing yearly events such as independence celebrations and Heroes’ Day in the town, but this year, no event was organized.”
Uupitha further claimed that Mwandiki was trying to instigate people against her and keep Hindjou as mayor because she is benefiting from the mayor’s allegedly corrupt activities.
“Initially when Hindjou was made the mayor, people had elected me to be the mayor, but the party felt he was the right man for the job. When that happened, I did not complain.
“People need to understand that when you are elected by the party, it is an opportunity to serve on the party’s ticket and not your own. I am being treated like a foreigner in my own party because I have refused to be pulled into illegal activities,” she complained.
She vowed to take up her post as mayor as instructed by the party’s management.
“If the SG wants me to be mayor then I will be the mayor. We know that it is a given that every year there might be a rotation. Even ministers are reshuffled so I do not really see why this should be made into a special case,” she said.
In an interview with the Windhoek Observer, Mwandiki refuted the allegations, saying Uupitha has a penchant for quarrelling and starting fights.
“She is just someone who likes complaining, if you are together with people and you do not cooperate with others what do you expect?” Mwandiki said.
Last week, the Windhoek Observer reported that the SWAPO Party Okahandja District Executive Committee had decided to disregard a directive by Shaningwa to appoint Uupitha as mayor.
It said Shaningwa went against the rules and procedures pertaining to the election of party office bearers which states that candidates for mayoral and deputy mayoral positions in terms of the Local Authorities Act 1992 shall be identified by the District Executive Committee.
Mwandiki told the Windhoek Observer then that the executive had decided to do things its own way.
“We took a resolution that we have the power to appoint our people. We respect our SG; if she had done proper consultations, we would not have a problem,” Mwandiki said.
The Okahandja District Executive Committee said it does not agree with the decision to elevate Uupitha into the mayoral position.
“This person does not know how to work well with people. She fights with everyone and sometimes even resorts to physical fights. How is it possible that the SG is giving this person this position?
“When we invite her to meetings she does not show up and this same person should now become a leader,” Mwandiki complained.
Magistrate Khaepriums Swartz recently aborted the swearing-in ceremony of Okahandja town councillors as chaos broke out between two groups of the community.
It is not yet clear when the councillors will be sworn in.